MARTIAN ROCK

Four intrepid Martian explorers set off in search of other life forms in this rollicking tour of the solar system from the pair behind Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp (1997). In jaunty rhyming verse, Shields describes the surface conditions of the various planets as a rapid tour of Orbs Five through Nine reveals no evidence of habitation; when the daring travelers fail to discover any living thing at Orbs One and Two, they begin to lose hope. “By now they were homesick,/filled with despair,/And fresh out of socks/and clean underwear.” A brief stop at the South Pole reveals the unique inhabitants (penguins) of Orb Three (Earth) to the elated Martians, who proceed to join in the birds at play. Readers will relish the humor in Nash’s vivacious illustrations, especially as the misguided Martians begin their earnest study on the behaviors of the population of Orb Three. In an edifying mix of science and fun, Shields concocts a tale that entertains and educates; a glossary supplies both the Martian and Earth names of the orbs along with pertinent information about the planets. This saucy look beyond the stratosphere is bound to be a hit with children. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0598-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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THE LOST BOY AND THE MONSTER

Strete pens an ode to tolerance that is none too subtle, but the stunning artwork from Johnson and Fancher should keep viewers involved. The story is a parable couched as a Native American tale, in which a boy (identified by Strete as lost and without a name, although why this is important is never made clear) comes across a rattlesnake and a scorpion, both of whom wonder why the boy doesn’t kill them: “Why should I do that? Snakes belong in this world just like me.” Scorpions, too, the boy chirps. The venomous critters adopt the boy as a brother and when he gets trapped by the Old Foot Eater, a monster who lives in a medicine basket on top of a tree, catching his quarry with a sticky rope, the rattlesnake and scorpion come to his rescue and seal the monster’s doom. Good deeds fly thick and fast here, but without context. The illustrations draw their hues from the American southwest, while the paint is scratched to convey a sense of age and animation, and the monster is a ghoulish, block-headed, spine-chilling delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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MAMA AND ME AND THE MODEL T

PLB 0-688-15299-6 The Searcys and the Longs (Mountain Wedding, 1996) return in this deep-South, mountain-valley duel of the sexes. Mandy Searcy tells about the arrival of a Model T on the farm. Mr. Long, Mandy’s stepfather, has just purchased the vehicle and is showing it off to the extended family. He calls the boys over for a closer inspection of the wondrous machine. “Cars are for boys,” chirps one boy, looking for trouble. “Girls just ride,” chides another. Mrs. Searcy thinks otherwise. She brushes past the protesting Mr. Long, commandeers the car, and races off with Mandy in the death seat. “We bobbed across a stump at the edge of the yard and ran over a crape of myrtle bush—Mama flattened a pine sapling before tearing through the pasture fence and shimmying over a hill.” It is one lovely rural landscape Mrs. Searcy explores at high speed, depicted in autumn splendor in Rand’s watercolors. This boisterous tip of the hat toward equality of the sexes is as fit and funny as a family story ought to be. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15298-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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